Despite big name chain stores disappearing from the high street at an alarming rate the online fabric industry is blossoming with new stores popping up every few weeks. There are some big sites that stock a huge range of fabrics, and some smaller niche stores specialising in a certain style or type of fabric. Most of them also sell sewing patterns, haberdashery supplies and other little extras too.
If you have never purchased fabric online now is a great time to do so, with so many stores out there prices are very competitive and you can often find fabrics and supplies that you can’t find at your local store.
Some people are concerned about buying online because they like to feel the fabric before buying, or are worried that the colours on screen will not be the same as in real life. Plus sometimes you don’t quite know what you want and prefer to physically browse through rows of fabric until you see the right one.
Luckily those concerns can be overcome, most fabric stores are happy to send samples of their fabrics so that you can feel the weight of the fabric, match the colours to your project and check the drape. Some offer a free sample service and others have a minimal charge to cover postage. You will normally find details of the same service in the FAQ section, customer service section or can contact the shop owner to check.
Most online fabric store owners are happy to help and recommend suitable fabrics if you contact them with a query. I recently purchased some charm packs from Quilt Me Happy but couldn’t work out what fabric would best match it for binding the quilt, I contacted the owner Tracy and she was happy to advise me.
I spoke to 2 online fabric sellers Ann Haughton former owner of Suffolk Sewing School and Alice Synge from Backstitch to find out the pros and cons of buying fabric online:
It’s open 24/7 – you can shop any time of day, any day of the week.
Your purchases are covered by distance selling regulations.
Convenience – you don’t have to leave the house to be able to choose from a huge range of fabrics and supplies.
More variety plus you can easily shop around to make sure you get a great price.
Without feeling the fabric you can’t tell how it will handle or drape, ask for a sample if you need to.
Some sites only deal by e-mail so you can’t just call them to ask a quick question.
There’s a wait between ordering and receiving your goods so you can’t get started straight away.
It can be hard to make sure you have the exact right fabric for your project – but call the retailer and ask if you are unsure.
Finally a few tips to get you started:
Shop around, there is so much choice online nowadays take the time to look about and find the best deals.
Ask for samples if you are unsure.
Sign up to newsletters and follow shops on Facebook & Twitter for details of the latest fabrics in stock and discount codes/offers. You can also keep an eye on our sales page for discounts and fabric sales.
For more unusual or hard to find fabrics try looking on American sites but don’t forget you may have to pay customs tax, as well as increased shopping costs.
If you can’t find what you are looking for there are companies that allow you to print your own fabrics, I’ve got a big list of them here.
Popular online fabric stores
Plush Addict – www.plushaddict.co.uk – Huge range of fabrics and general sewing haberdashery with a free ‘no quibble’ returns service.
Sewbox – www.sewbox.co.uk – Specialise in designer dressmaking fabrics and patterns, particularly Liberty prints.
Eclectic Maker – www.eclecticmaker.co.uk – As the name would suggest they have a wide and eclectic range of fabrics.
Abakhan Fabrics – www.abakhan.co.uk – Stock lots of value dressmaking fabrics and sewing supplies including some good bargain bags.
Raystitch – www.raystitch.co.uk – Stock designer & organic fabrics for dressmaking & quilting along with a good range of quality haberdashery supplies.
Lovely Jubbly Fabrics – www.lovelyjubblyfabrics.co.uk – Great selection of modern quilting fabrics.